The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has announced the introduction of a new 48-page passport to replace the existing 15-page one by the end of the year.
The introduction of the new-page document according to her was to ease the frequency of demand for passport renewal as well as satisfy the needs of frequent travellers in the country.
Taking her turn at the Meet-the-Press series organised by the Ministry of Information, Ms Botchwey said apart from the increase in the pages, the ministry had started discussions to introduce chip embedded passports to keep up with the pace of technological advancement and enhance the security of Ghanaian passport.
“Over the past two years, the ministry has embarked on a number of initiatives to facilitate the process of passport acquisition for Ghanaians. Among these initiatives are the online passport application; downloadable Portable Document Format (PDF) passport application and the passport application centres,” she said.
“Others are the establishment of the premium passport application centres, overhauling of passport processing equipment; extension of the validity of passports from five years to ten years; and the provision of premium services among others. Additionally, there are plans to introduce 48-page passports to satisfy the needs of frequent travellers before the end of this year.”
The minister explained that seven missions abroad had been equipped to process and issue biometric passports to Ghanaians in the diaspora and to further minimise the bottlenecks associated with the acquisition of biometric passports some missions had adopted the mobile enrolment of passport applicants in the course of the year.
Touching on the issue of migration, she said it had become a thorny global issue which could only be addressed in the spirit of partnership and respect for international law and treaty obligations.
She said dealing with the scourge of irregular legal migration had become more pronounced in the wake of the modern-day slavery as was recently reported in Libya, where a large number of sub-Saharan Africans were being auctioned as slaves.
Ms Botchwey noted that in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) her outfit had facilitated the voluntary repatriation of about 843 illegal Ghanaian migrants under the “Return, Readmission and Reintegration Programme” via a chartered flight from Tripoli to Ghana.
She said the IOM was currently implementing a project dubbed ‘Strengthening the management and governance of migration and the sustainable reintegration or returning migrants into Ghana’ with an amount of 3 million Euros.
“The project seeks to support the government to improve the reintegration of 650 returning migrants, strengthen national structures to manage reintegration process in a dignified and sustainable manner,” she added.
By Cliff Ekuful